S.O.A.R. (Stratford, Oxford, Abbey Representatives) which is an organized group of neighbors who meet monthly to address neighborhood concerns and plan ways to improve the overall quality of our neighborhood.
Heights of Hope Fest: A yearly cultural celebration that brings together church and community in a way that highlights the rich diversity of our community. It is a free event that showcases the talents of our community via food, art, music, and performances.
Neighborhood Cleanups: Several times throughout the year, members of SOAR and Heights of Hope organize neighborhood wide cleanups, inviting residents to take advantage of dumpsters to get rid of large unwanted items, and to pick up trash. Once a year we also provide free flowers for residents to liven up their yards, mailboxes, and porches!
The Christmas Store: Each year around Christmas time, families are able to register their children for the Christmas Store. Parents chose the gift item for their child, and then members of our partner churches go out and purchase them. On the date of the store, families are able to purchase the gift at 10% of the original cost.
Youth Mentoring: At Heights of Hope we believe firmly in investing into the development of our youth! We believe that having a positive, committed mentor can have a significant impact on the course of a child’s life, and run a mentoring program that currently matches about 40 mentors with youth from our neighborhood. Mentors commit to meeting once a week with their mentee, and our staff is continously providing fun, free, and creative activities that mentors and mentors can participate in!
Tutoring: Three days a week, our community center is open afterschool for students to drop in and receive extra help with homework. We have a computer, internet, and printer available, as well as tutors ready to work with individual students. During the summer, this program is available in the mornings so that kids can stay academically engaged during the off months!
WHOA!: WHOA is our youth health and fitness program (and no, it doesn’t stand for anything other than WHOA!). This program is designed to combat some of the challenges of the inactive summer months, and to help address the concern of childhood obesity. Twice a week during the summer, our youth can participate in health and fitness activities, including rock climbing, soccer lessons, dance, tae kwon do, etc. Fitness lessons are taught, and all summer long kids train for a 5k that is run at the end of the summer. Through this program, kids have the opportunity to earn a brand new pair of running shoes before the school year starts!
Explosion: This winter, with the help and advice of some of the children in our neighborhood, we began a youth arts program called Explosion. Students choose a class (This session we were able to offer dance, basic guitar, cooking and baking, art fun, and strategy games), and over the next ten weeks work with teachers from our neighborhood and our partner churches to explore their creativity and learn new skills. The session ends with an exhibition where the students are able to display their talents for their families and friends.
The Eastside Food Pantry: The Eastside Food pantry currently serves over 300 families from the Holland Heights Community. It is located in the basement of Calvary Reformed Church, and is supported by all of our partner churches. It is open three times a week and families are able to use it every two weeks. We are also in partnership with Feeding America West Michigan.
While many of our programs and activities are strong and well run, perhaps our greatest initiative is our desire to build healthy, positive relationships with people in our community. We want to become good neighbors and friends, people that can be trusted and leaned on during difficult times, as well as rejoice together in good times. We want to empower people to use the wonderful talents that God has given them, but that the world often ignores. And most of all, we want every person we come in contact with to know that they are valued and loved.